“If he is in Brazil we need to hear him speak Portuguese”: Exploring Indigenous Peoples Lack of Access to Court Interpreters in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul

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  • Although Brazil has an extensive body of legislation which in theory protects Indigenous linguistic rights, including access to interpreters during legal proceedings, Brazilian courts seem unwilling to allow for Indigenous languages to be spoken alongside Portuguese (the official language) within the judiciary system. Time and time again, Indigenous people navigating the judicial system have not been afforded the rights safeguarded for them by legislation. In particular, this thesis will argue through the analysis of various case studies focusing on various Indigenous tribes of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, that Article 12 of the ILO Convention 169, Article 231 of the Federal Constitution, and more recently Resolution N 287, have been systematically violated. By forcing Indigenous people to speak Portuguese and by denying them access to interpreters, the courts have been violating Indigenous language rights and their allowed access to interpreters which has been written into law. Finally, this thesis will also explore how by refusing to allow Indigenous languages to be spoken during legal proceedings, discriminatory and colonial ideologies aimed at devaluing Indigenous languages as legitimate have also been perpetuated. Ultimately, the delegitimization of Indigenous languages within the judicial system in Brazil has not only served to delegitimize the value of Indigenous cultures but also Indigenous claims to their ancestral territories.

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    Research Material
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International